Friday, April 10, 2015

Eat Real Food: Apple Pie Energy Balls

As someone fairly new to needing to fuel on long rides (because I never used to ride that long or far), I'm still navigating what does and does not work for my body in terms of nutrition. I'm definitely in the "experiment and see" mode and have been trying a wide variety of things.  My primary desire though is to stick to stuff that has good for me ingredients.  One of the Osmo Nutrition tenets is "food in the pocket," so I have also been thinking about where I'm getting my calories from. Now, others may say that it's best to get your calories in liquid form, which may be easier to digest but could also slosh around in your stomach.  Like, I said, I'm experimenting to see what works best for my own body, and I would highly encourage you to do the same.

Two products that I used (one I had used previously and one new) on my long rides in Florida are the following:

Honey Stinger Chews

Very important to match your fuel to your kit!

I could pretty much eat Honey Stinger Chews like candy.  I love all the flavours and was pleasantly surprised with the caffeinated version, which I tried for the first time on my trip.  I liked the fact that it was caffeinated with white tea extract.  These contain multiple sources of sugars, so quicker digesting and some that take longer to digest, so the blood stream has sugars available readily.

Hüma Chia Gels

After reading about Hüma Chia Gels on someone else's blog (eek, can't remember who though), I wanted to give these a try.  The ingredients are minimal and all things I could buy at the grocery store (so I'm basically going to try to make my own next). And it happened that the Gear for Multisport at the NTC carried a bunch of flavors!  My only wish was that I hadn't waited til late in my ride to try the gels (I had raspberry and on a separate ride, lemonade with caffeine), because they were quite warm given the hot weather in Clermont.  But the flavor was pretty delicious, and they didn't seem to upset my stomach at all, as I've experienced with other "gels." Plus, the science behind Hüma gels is pretty cool and see this nifty infographic.

Real Food Alert -- Apple Pie Energy Balls

Because I was / am a food blogger in another life (see K&K Test Kitchen), I also like to experiment with making yummy, portable snacks for myself.  I made a batch of these apple pie energy balls to take on our road trip to the Newburyport Half Marathon in the fall, and then I never posted the recipe. So I decided to whip up some more for my Florida trip.  These turned out perfectly and were a great snack during my rides.  I even successfully unwrapped one with one hand while it was still in the back pocket of my bike jersey then ate it, while keeping up my 19 mph speed! These made my tummy happy.  You'll need to remember to wash them down with some water, but other than that, they seemed to do the trick!

Apple Pie Energy Balls

1 cup pitted, dried dates
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup dried apples
1/2 to 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (depends on how well your mixture is coming together)
Generous shake of cinnamon (to taste)
Dash of allspice
Dash of salt

In a food processor, pulse almonds until ground (stop before it reaches a flour like consistency!).  Remove the almonds to a separate bowl, then add the dates and apples to the bowl of the food processor and process until it starts to form into a sticky ball.  Add the almonds back to the processor bowl, then add the spices.  Process until the mixture again starts to clump into a ball. 

Form the mixture into small balls, then refrigerate before serving.  Should keep for a week in the fridge.

If you make 16 balls, this amounts to about 120 calories per ball (7 g fat, 14g carbs, 3g protein).